Thursday, 18 August 2011

Hospital Cup heroes every one

I HAVE written in this column and in many others over the years about the happy times I spent as a member of Axminster Football Club in the early 1970s.

Although I played most of my football with my home town club in Lyme Regis, and went on to serve the Seasiders as chairman for ten years, subsequently being elected a life member, I have always considered Axminster Town to be my second club.

I have remained on friendly terms with most of my former colleagues at Sector Lane over the years, despite the strong rivalry that exists between Lyme and Axminster.

And when I returned to these parts after working in London in the mid-1990s I was delighted to renew my acquaintances through the Axminster Hospital Cup, one of the most prestigious of local football cup competitions, first played for in 1930 when the late Percy Stuart donated a magnificent cup.

I am sad to say that I never won an Axminster Hospital Cup medal in my playing days with Lyme, although I did get a runners-up trophy in 1980, a final I remember well as I broke my ankle. I think it was against Beer.

The cup competition had been going through a few baron years and I was more than pleased to join the committee when I returned to the newspaper scene in East Devon to take over the running of Pulman’s Weekly News.

With one of my schoolboy idols, Martin Leach, chairing the committee, we were able to breath new life into the competition and once again funds started to flow for Axminster Hospital.
Committee meetings at Axminster Conservative Club were always enjoyable occasions and inevitably meant a late night.

These and other enjoyable memories were recalled on Saturday morning when the committee, now led with great enthusaism and pride by Pete Garner, invited me over to Axminster Hospital to witness the official opening of the new conservataory at the Day Room.

As well as supporting the hospital in many other ways over the years, with thousands of pounds being donated, the committee put aside a sum of money every year for the past 12 years to meet the £189,000 cost of the conservatory.

Life President Roy McLennan was given the honour of cutting the official tape, helped by new matron Liz Bradley, and the committee members, many who have given many years of service, lined up proudly to have their photo taken.

It’s incredible to think that it was 40 years ago that Les Bounds and I were dashing down the wing for the Tigers but the spirit that existed then is just as strong today.

The Axminster Hospital Cup Committee is made up of a few blokes who love the game of football and have put much back into the sport - to the great beneftit of Axminster Hospital and those who need its services. Heroes all of them.

WE had to move pretty smartish to get the A-level results from Colyton Grammar and Axe Valley Community College in this week’s issue.

They were released today (Thursday morning) just a few hours before we went to press. We’ve long expected fantastic results from Colyton Grammar and this year’s set of results was no exception. Standards at Axe Valley were also well above target and I understand there were good results also at Honiton Community College and Sidmouth College.

Well done to all those students who have worked so hard - and a word of praise also for the teachers.

Still no progress on town eyesore

THE disgrace that is Webster’s Garage in Axminster continues with, it would seem, little hope of this dreadful town centre eyesore being developed in the near future.

When I started writing this column I commented, perhaps a little foolhardily, that if Webster’s Garage was situated in the middle of Sidmouth, the seat of East Devon District Council, it would have been dealt with years ago and not allowed to fester on for 30 or more years.

As you can imagine, those comments did not go down very well at Knowle - but I stand by them. Successive town councils over the years have tried their best, as have Axminster Chamber of Commerce, to get some action. But in the current financial climate, is there a real hope that any progress will be made soon? I doubt it.

New town councillor Paul Hayward has demanded that special powers be used to made the crumbling site “safe, secure and visually acceptable”. His colleagues, taking the polite option, decided to seek EDDC’s view on using such legislation.

Three months later and there’s been no response. That’s an insult to Axminster.

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